QC defends Ashers’ actions in final day of Belfast trial

Producing a pro-gay marriage campaign cake would have gone against the “deeply-held religious beliefs” of the McArthur family, the QC for Ashers Baking Company has said.

David Scoffield was speaking today as the case against the Christian-run bakery entered its final day.

The Christian Institute is supporting Ashers, which is owned and run by the McArthur family.

Muslim printer

Speaking in Belfast County Court, Scoffield referred to similar scenarios to those put forward in a legal opinion by Aidan O’Neill QC.

This laid out possible consequences of a defeat for Ashers, including that a Muslim printer who refused to print cartoons of Mohammed would also have no defence.

However, Robin Allen, the Equality Commission’s QC, said if a Muslim printer did not want to print such cartoons then he should stop printing all other cartoons.

Same-sex marriage

The court was also reminded that Ashers did not know the sexual orientation of Gareth Lee, the customer who asked for the cake.

District Judge Isobel Brownlie will now consider the arguments before giving a ruling. It is not expected for a number of weeks.

Last Tuesday thousands of people went to the Waterfront Hall in Belfast to hear Daniel McArthur talk about his experience.

Hundreds who were unable to get into the venue stood outside and sang hymns in the cold.

Freedom

A recent poll in Northern Ireland revealed overwhelming support for the right to freedom of expression.

The ComRes survey of more than 1,000 adults showed that 90 per cent say equality laws “should be used to protect people from discrimination and not to force people to say something they oppose”.

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